Responsible timber trade in the Baltic

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Estonia

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Latvia
Europe/Middle-East > Europe General

Responsible timber trade in the Baltic States.
© WWF Sweden / Peter Roberntz

Summary

Demand for high-value timber from the forests of Estonia and Latvia is growing, especially from Western Europe. But there is a fear that over-cutting, felling of protected trees species and logging without sufficient controls will have a negative impact on the region’s biodiversity and industry.

WWF is working in these Baltic countries to help develop and improve sustainable forestry and responsible timber trade. One way is to encourage local forest companies to source their timber through the WWF-supported Forest Stewardship certification process.

Background

The round wood import to Sweden has its main origin in Estonia and Latvia. The Swedish and Scandinavian actors play an important role on the round wood market in the region. The forest in the Baltic States harbour a very high biological diversity compared to Scandinavia. Some species that are extinct or highly threatened in Scandinavia are still relatively common in Estonia and Latvia.

Meanwhile the development and improvement of sustainable forestry and responsible timber trade in the region is a huge challenge. The existence of different kinds of illegal business including tax evasion and corruption is a huge problem. A considerable part of the timber flow comes from small scale private forest owners. In general they lack of knowledge regarding forest and forestry.

The forest sector consists of a huge amount of small or middle-sized actors with limited ambitions concerning environmental and social aspects. An increased competition with raw material of timber can be predicted as a cause of increased internal capacity of the forest industry and a decreased timber import from Russia.

Meanwhile, during the previous year, several positive steps towards responsible forestry and timber trade have been taken. One example is an increased use of certified raw material and improved traceability among many actors. Furthermore, illegal business in the forest sector is counteracted with favourable taxation laws and coordinated action plans against illegal business and corruption. The present project has clearly contributed to several of these important actions. Another result is the developed collaboration and dialogue between the forest sector and the environmental organisations.

Objectives

Contribute to continuous development of improved responsible timber trade and sustainable forestry in Latvia and Estonia.

Solution

- Prevent illegal trade from companies and authorities within the forest sector.

- Develop sustainable processes for important actors on the timber trade market, including increased demand for responsible forestry.

- Increase national awareness and directives for responsible forestry.

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